Port Hedland neighbours reveal desperate attempts to save fire victims

Warning: This story contains the names of deceased Indigenous children.

The bodies of three children killed in a Pilbara house fire will be transported from the scene to hospital on Thursday, accompanied by a family precession.

Jamela, Anand and Kelvin were found dead inside their Anderson Street home in Port Hedland on Tuesday afternoon after firefighters were called to the scene to extinguish a blaze.

Neighbours told Nine News Perth their mother, Margaret Hawke, emerged from the burning house with a cut on her face around 4.45pm asking them to call an ambulance.

Desperate residents then tried to tackle the blaze with garden hoses and smashed windows in an attempt to reach the children.

Firefighters found their bodies as they rushed to extinguish the fire. The mother was sedated in the aftermath of the tragedy, with homicide detectives travelling to the mining town on Wednesday to speak with her.

Postmortem examinations to determine the cause of death will be carried out after the bodies have been removed from the scene, pending a forensic investigation at the house.

WA Police Pilbara Superintendent Kim Massam said the mother was still at Hedland Health Campus receiving medical treatment.

“She is still assisting police and is recovering,” he said.

“WA Police will get to the bottom of this investigation, we will provide the answers the community are looking for, but we need time to do it in a professional and competent manner.”

Asked if any charges had been laid relating to the incident, Massam said he couldn’t preempt an outcome.

A growing memorial of teddy bears outside the Port Hedland house where three children were killed in a house fire.Credit:9 News Perth

The Department of Communities confirmed the family was known to the agency but declined to comment further, citing the ongoing police investigation.

Acting regional executive director Sally Kirk said the department was working with police and other services to assist the extended family and broader community to come to terms with the tragedy.

“Everybody is affected, this is a well-known family in the community, they have a lot of connections and they’re related to a lot of people and/or their children go to the schools,” she said.

“[The family] is going through the most difficult time that you could imagine, they’re grieving for the loss of these babies.

“They have said they are being flooded with attention from the community, well-wishers and the media and they’ve asked everyone if they could give them some space to grieve.”

The mother’s Facebook page showed her devotion to her three children, who she described as “her everything”.

“For my family I will do the best I can,” she wrote.

The mother of the children, Margaret Hawke, has been sedated.Credit:Facebook

A family member, who did not want to be identified, said people saw Hawke hugging and kissing her children as she picked them up from school on Tuesday, just hours before the fire.

“Margy is a loving mother and never known to be anything other than that, a loving mother,” she said.

“She is gentle, loving, kind and great with the kids, a good mum.”

Massam said anyone seeking mental health support after the tragedy could reach out for help.

“This is a tragic, unprecedented time and we’re very concerned for members of the community,” he said.

“And I reach out today to ask that if you are feeling that you need to talk to someone that we in the Hedland community have the resources available for you to do so.”

WAtoday has chosen not to publish images of the children without the family’s consent.

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